No. 1 Syracuse beats Tulane 80-61 to move to 13-0
By JOHN KEKIS
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Tulane was executing its game plan just as coach Ed Conroy had mapped it out. The Green Wave was within three points of top-ranked Syracuse late in the first half, and then in the blink of an eye any chance at a major upset disappeared.
James Southerland and Brandon Triche each hit a pair of 3-pointers to key a 19-point surge that included five straight makes from beyond the arc in the final 5:43 of the first half, and Syracuse defeated Tulane 80-61 on Thursday night to remain unbeaten.
"We executed well. We got good shots," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We shared the ball, and we got three or four really good extra passes. Everyone got a 3. It was just good ball movement and getting the ball to the open man."
It's the third straight season Syracuse has won its first 13 games as it prepares for the start of Big East play next week. The Orange have won three straight since reaching the top spot in the rankings 10 days ago, including victories over North Carolina State and Bucknell.
On Thursday night, the Syracuse bench did what it's been doing all season, accounting for 45 points. Five players hit at least one 3-pointer in a 10-for-21 performance from beyond the arc.
"I think that's what makes us so good is that we have so many guys that can come off the bench and score the ball to make plays," said freshman guard Michael Carter-Williams, who had seven points, three assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes. "It gives the starters time to rest so they can come out strong. Not too many teams have that."
Tulane (11-2) had faced the No. 1 team in the nation twice before, losing to Cincinnati (72-59) in January 2000 and Memphis (97-71) in February 2008. The Green Wave has never defeated a top-five team and hasn't beaten a top-10 since a 49-47 victory over No. 9 Memphis in February 1983.
Kendall Timmons led Tulane with 16 points, Ricky Tarrant had 15 and Jordan Callahan 10. Josh Davis, a transfer from North Carolina State who was averaging 12.1 points and 10.2 rebounds, missed all nine shots he took and finished with three points and six rebounds.
Tulane stayed tough in the opening minutes despite finding little room inside, playing the Orange to a standstill as they worked the clock in deliberate fashion. A short jumper by Kevin Thomas knotted the score at 14-all midway through the first half, and Timmons' 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer moved the Green Wave within 22-19 with 6:57 left.
That was it for Tulane as the Orange's long-range attack shifted into high gear. The Green Wave missed four straight shots and were called for two shot-clock violations in the closing minutes, while Syracuse hit five straight 3-pointers to gain a 41-19 halftime lead.
"We kind of fell into the trap," Timmons said. "We got out of what we were doing and they came with a 19-point run and we were not able to climb back into it. We just have to do a better job of being mentally tough, not get into an up-and-down game."
It all started after a miss by Triche. Fab Melo tapped the rebound out to Joseph, and he hit a 3 from the left wing.
Joseph then sent Scoop Jardine off on fast-break layup and Triche hit a 3 from the right corner after quick passes around the perimeter by Jardine and Joseph.
After Melo blocked a dunk attempt by Tre Drye, it was Southerland's turn to shine. He hit another 3 from the right wing, drove the lane and fed Baye Keita for a resounding dunk, then hit a 3 from the top of the key.
Jardine ended the spurt by feeding Triche for a 3 from the right corner.
Tulane, called for three shot-clock violations in the first half, shot just 24 percent (6 of 25) and committed nine turnovers in the opening period, while the Orange hit 14 of 25 shots (56 percent), including 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. In the previous two games, Syracuse made 19 of 42 3-point attempts, a 45 percent clip.
In its win over the Wolfpack, Syracuse scored 23 straight points in a first-half spurt that took just 6:47 - about a minute longer than Thursday night's blitz.
"I feel like our offense is kind of contagious," Southerland said. "Once one finds a way to get it going, everyone else gets it going. That's a great thing for our team. We have a lot of guys that can score. That's all it takes sometimes is one guy to get it going."
Despite the setback, Conroy took some positives into the holidays.
"I think our guys were so coachable," he said. "We cut the turnovers down. We were able to get to the free throw line, we were able to rebound. Those are things we can carry forward. We just weren't sharp offensively in that stretch."
Updated December 23, 2011